Researcher: Dr Deborah Fenlon
Location: University of Swansea
Project title: Finding the best way to deliver cognitive behavioural therapy to reduce the impact of hot flushes and night sweats
Key area: Treatment
Up to 70% of women receiving treatment for breast cancer experience hot flushes and night sweats, which can have a huge impact on their life. However, support to help women deal with these symptoms is variable and often lacking. We need to find ways to help women reduce the impact of these side-effects and so give them the best possible quality of life.
The science behind the project
Researchers have shown that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), a type of ‘talking therapy’, helps reduce the impact that hot flushes and night sweats can have on breast cancer patients, allowing them to regain a sense of control over these symptoms.
The CBT is usually given to groups of women by a trained clinical psychologist. Dr Deborah Fenlon will conduct a trial called MENOS4 which will investigate whether the same CBT can be delivered effectively by a breast cancer nurse instead. Since most women will see a breast cancer nurse during their treatment, this could improve access to CBT.
The study will involve up to 160 women with breast cancer with severe and frequent hot flushes or night sweats, from five hospitals across England. Half of these women will receive the group CBT from a breast cancer nurse, involving six weekly sessions lasting 90 minutes each. The other half will receive whatever support they would normally receive. The researchers will ask all the women after 26 weeks to see if the impact of their hot flushes and night sweats has been reduced, and also study how effectively the CBT was given by the breast cancer nurses.
What difference will this project make?
Dr Fenlon’s research could pave the way for much wider access to CBT to help reduce the impact of hot flushes and night sweats on the lives of women with breast cancer, and so provide them with the best possible quality of life during their treatment.
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